Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Philosophy Isn’t Confusing

Vikings Will Enter 2023 Offseason with Familiar Problem
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Last week, the Minnesota Vikings released running back Dalvin Cook after six seasons, and outside linebacker Danielle Hunter was plopped into the trade rumor mill by national media.

Of course, those items sent some fans to the hills, panicked and yelling about a tear-it-down rebuild that doesn’t exist.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Philosophy Isn’t Confusing

For undetermined reasons, folks believe an NFL team must do one of two strategies for team-building: trade draft picks out the wazoo to contend for a Super Bowl like the 2021 Los Angeles Rams — or visibly tank in a regular season for the following year’s 1st overall pick. You’ll frequently hear, “Are they contending or rebuilding?”

Overhauled Teams
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Well, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah doesn’t see the NFL world defined by two camps. How do we know this? He said it — more than once. Since taking the Vikings job 17 months ago, Adofo-Mensah has verbally outlined — and personally effectuated — what he calls a competitive rebuild. He’s offloaded aging, expensive veterans’ contracts while focusing on salary cap flexibility and youth. It’s as plain as day. There is no ambiguity.

In March 2022, Adofo-Mensah was asked about the all-in versus rebuild debate — the phony one — and he replied, “I think when people look at teams, they can sometimes do it in a very binary way. They ask are you either all-in, or are you tearing it down and rebuilding? I don’t really look at the world that way. The way we look at it is we’re trying to navigate both worlds.”

Lottery Ticket QB
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

His answer is not debatable, interpretive, or puzzling. If you must, during an oft-circulated all-in versus contend discussion, cite this damn sentence: “The way we look at it is we’re trying to navigate both worlds.”

It’s more than okay to disagree with Adofo-Mensah’s strategy. Do it.

But it’s not a mystery. Very clearly, the Vikings are not trading the farm like the 2021 Rams for a Super Bowl push, nor are they using 2023 as a flyover springboard to get to 2024. Fans and pundits want it to be ‘one or the other,’ and it’s just not.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio opined on the topic last week, actually titling an article: A year after running it back, the Vikings are tearing it down. He wrote, “Whether that’s tanking or strategic rebuilding is a matter of semantics. The Vikings aren’t prioritizing winning as many games as possible in 2023, just like the Cardinals.”

Likening the Vikings 2023 outlook to the Cardinals is downright head-scratching. Arizona will be without Kyler Murray for half the season. The Vikings are not battling an injured QB1. In fact, Minnesota hopes to win the NFC North once again.

Florio also opined, “Even as the Vikings will try to persuade themselves and others that they’re trying to get to the Super Bowl and win it (every team says that, every year), the Vikings have a broader plan to make themselves into a consistent Super Bowl contender. It involves deliberately taking a major step back in 2023, in the hopes that it will lead to multiple steps forward in 2024 and beyond.”

Vikings on Another
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“Deliberately taking a major step back in 2023” is not a sentiment echoed by any Vikings player, coach, or executive. In fact, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero visited Vikings organized team activities last week and asked newcomer EDGE rusher Marcus Davenport about his mission statement for 2023. Davenport replied, “I only got one expectation. That’s the Super Bowl. And so, from there, it’s one of those things where we’ll just have to see. My point is Super Bowl, and then we’ll see.”

Davenport is under contract in Minnesota for one year. He isn’t glancing at 2023 or beyond at some deliberately-play-poorly plan.

From the moment Adofo-Mensah hired, change was always forthcoming. The change has arrived, he said his team would ‘navigate both worlds’ via team-building, and still, some folks don’t get it.

It’s not that complicated. Listen to Adofo-Mensah’s words.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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